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Posts Tagged ‘political rights’

The Women’s Equality Party is a national political party founded in 2015 by author and journalist Catherine Mayer and broadcaster and author Sandi Toksvig. The party takes inspiration from the suffragettes and this is reflected in the party logo colours of green, purple and white. The mission of the party is to see women enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men and aims for equal representation in politics, business, industry and throughout working life. The party has already ran candidates in local, mayoral elections and in the 2017 General Election.

There are branches in Scotland, including a Grampian branch, based in Keith in Moray.

References: website.

Sources: unknown.

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A group was formed in 1837 by followers of the social reformer Robert Owen (1771 – 1858). Owen had been active for 30 years establishing various social reform schemes and associations, such as New Lanark, co-operative communities across Britain and a Grand National Consolidated Trade Union. In 1835 he established an Association of All Classes of All Nations (renamed as the Universal Community Society of Rational Religionists in 1839), boldly adopting ‘Socialism or The Rational System of Society’. These associations between 1837 and 1845 had hundreds of branches across the country, composed of individuals involved in the earlier co-operative, free-thinking, trade unionist and republican movements. It is not clear whether there was an ‘official’ branch in Aberdeen, like there were in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 1837 an Owenite socialist committee was formed in Aberdeen after a lecture in Concert Court, Broad Street, held by the Owenite Robert Buchanan. A committee was formed with the purpose of keeping the subject of socialism before the attention of the people of Aberdeen. William Lindsay, bookseller, was a member, and in 1841 Lindsay and colleagues invited Robert Owen to Aberdeen and he came in 1842 and lectured in the hall of the Royal Hotel.

Related entries: William Lindsay.

References: Some Notes Personal and Public by William Lindsay (W&W Lindsay, Aberdeen, 1898), The Aberdeen Journal, The Republican, Victorian Infidels: the origins of the British Secularist Movement 1791 – 1866 (Edward Royle, Manchester University Press, 1974) and Radicals, Secularists and Republicans: Popular Freethought in Britain 1866 – 1915 (Edward Royle, Manchester University Press, 1980).

Sources: Association of All Classes of All Nations papers are held at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.

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It is not clear whether there was an active group under this name, as the evidence is only in letters written to Richard Carlile’s publication, The Republican, between 1824 and 1826. It is clear though that there were individuals active in Aberdeen, calling themselves freethinkers and republicans.

Carlile (1793 – 1843), a Devon tinsmith, turned journalist and propagandist, was a follower of Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809), author of The Rights of Man (1791-1792), one of the founding father of the United States of America, and an honorary citizen of the new French revolutionary state. The followers of Paine were shaped by his ideas of the twin evils of ‘kingcraft’ and ‘priestcraft’. Carlile had established his publication, The Republican, in 1819, following the Peterloo massacre, yet he was soon imprisoned for 3 years for sedition and blasphemy for his publication and for republishing the writings of Paine.

What is clear then is that there were followers of Carlile and readers of his publications. In February 1824, in a letter to The Republican, a William Taylor of Aberdeen, writes that ‘the friends of liberty held a meeting here, on Thursday the 29th ultimo. for the purpose of celebrating the anniversary of the birth day of Thomas Paine’….The individuals who composed it were chiefly from amongst the working classes, and of that description of them, who have taken the liberty to think for themselves, and who have also taken considerable pains in forming a correct opinion as to what would ultimately have a tendency to promote their own happiness, and that of society at large’. Taylor goes on to state the birthday toasts which included Paine, Carlile, the independence of America, the Mechanics’ Institutions and Liberty.

A later letter to The Republican in December 1825, from a George Weir, states that ‘The Friends of Free Discussion in Aberdeen, desire to congratulate you on your liberation from the Dorchester Bastile’. In 1826 another letter of support is written from Aberdeen, by a William Inman from Woodside.

References: The Republican, Victorian Infidels: the origins of the British Secularist Movement 1791 – 1866 (Edward Royle, Manchester University Press, 1974) and Radicals, Secularists and Republicans: Popular Freethought in Britain 1866 – 1915 (Edward Royle, Manchester University Press, 1980).

Sources: unknown.

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The International Working Men’s Association (IWMA), also called the First International, split into factions and many members (such as the Aberdeen branch) joined other groups. One such group was the republican movement, led in the early 1870s by Charles Bradlaugh (atheist and founder of the National Secular Society), who himself had been a member the IWMA, but had left acrimoniously in 1871.

The republican movement was closely connected to the secularist movement and part of the tradition of radicalism stretching back to Thomas Paine, Richard Carlile and the Chartists. The movement was more than just a simple criticism of the monarchy, but was also a protest against the Established Church, the aristocracy, and their privileged position in the House of Lords. There was an overarching National Republican League and clubs throughout Britain, in Aberdeen (founded in spring 1873), Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow (these has been formed in 1871).

The Aberdeen Club formed from members that left the IWMA and a visit from propagandist John de Morgan to try and set up a branch in spring 1873, would appear to be the prime instigation. The Club met in Littlejohn Street Hall and officers included, W Scott (Secretary).

Related entries: International Working Men’s Association (Aberdeen)

References: Radicals, Secularists and Republicans: Popular Freethought in Britain 1866 – 1915 (Edward Royle, Manchester University Press, 1980), ‘The English Branches of the First International’ in Essays in Labour History (eds. Asa Briggs and John Saville, 1960) and Aberdeen Press and Journal.

Sources: unknown.

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The Aberdeen Labour Committee was formed about the time when the Aberdeen Junior Liberal Association folded in 1888. The key individual was George Gerrie, former Junior Liberal Association Secretary, but there was also George Bisset (President of the Aberdeen Trades Council 1886 – 1888). This Committee of middle-class former Liberals was formalised in 1890 and was composed of not only Bisset and Gerrie, but also former Aberdeen Radical Association member Dr A.T.G. Beveridge (future Chairman of the Aberdeen Independent Labour Party (ILP)) and former Junior Liberal Association member W.C. Spence. There was also stalwart campaigner Rev. Alexander Webster, Dr (later Sir) W.L. Mackenzie, A.P. Glass (shop-keeper/hatter) and A. Birse (a retired schoolteacher).

The function of the Committee was ‘to provide for those who were willing to assist the [Trades] Council on any labour questions of importance’. The Committee worked jointly with the Trades Council for a number of years, a key issue being the move towards the creation of the Scottish Trades Councils’ Labour Party (STCLP), in May 1892. The Committee was also involved in the canvassing of former Social Democratic Federation member Henry Hyde Champion as a Labour candidate for Aberdeen South in 1892.

When the STCLP was formed the Aberdeen Labour Committee folded. After a short period the STCLP became the Independent Labour Party (Aberdeen branch) and there was remarkable continuity between the ILP executive committee and the Aberdeen Labour Committee.

Related entries: Aberdeen Junior Liberal Association, Aberdeen Radical Association, Rev. Alexander Webster, Unitarian minister and socialist, Scottish Trades Councils’ Labour Party and Independent Labour Party (Aberdeen).

References: Trade Union Movement in Aberdeen (W. Diack, Aberdeen, 1939) and Trade Unionism in Aberdeen 1878 1900 (K. D. Buckley, Edinburgh, 1955).

Sources: unknown but references within Aberdeen Trades Union Council papers held at University of Aberdeen Library.

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The Aberdeen Junior Liberal Association was formed in 1882 and came out of (along-with the Aberdeen Radical Association) the splits between radicals and moderates in the Aberdeen Liberal Association (formed in 1877). Both associations formed in the 1880s were mainly composed of radicals and saw their function as pushing the Liberal Association along a more reformist path.

The Association formed around the issue of land nationalisation and held public lectures by individuals such as the radical MP William Alexander Hunter. Also, in 1886/1887 James Leatham lectured on the merits of socialism and notably in 1888, Robert Cunninghame Graham and Keir Hardie, put the case for working class politics.

Members of The Junior Liberal Association were more middle-class professional people than the Radical Association. Committee members included George Gerrie (Association Secretary and a bank official), George Bisset (President of the Aberdeen Trades Council 1886 – 1888) and W.C. Spence (a school teacher). The Association wound up in 1888 and all these men became supporters of a policy of independent Labour representation, via, The Labour Committee and then the Aberdeen Independent Labour Party.

Related entries: Aberdeen Radical Association, William Lindsay, bookseller and Rev. Alexander Webster, Unitarian minister and socialist.

References: James Leatham 1865-1945 (Bob Duncan, Aberdeen People’s Press, 1978) and Trade Unionism in Aberdeen 1878 1900 (K. D. Buckley, Edinburgh, 1955).

Sources: pamphlets of public lectures are held at University of Aberdeen Library.

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The Aberdeen Radical Association was formed in 1884 and came out of (along-with the Aberdeen Junior Liberal Association) the splits between radicals and moderates in the Aberdeen Liberal Association (formed in 1877). Both associations formed in the 1880s were mainly composed of radicals and saw their function as pushing the Liberal Association along a more reformist path.

The objects stated in the 1884 Constitution were: ‘The elimination of all power based on hereditary privilege, the promotion of political and social reform, and the furtherance of measures tending to the amelioration and advancement of the people’. The list of policies went further: abolition of the House of Lords, nationalisation of land, disestablishment and disendowment of state churches, free education and women’s suffrage.

The Radical Association members were predominantly working class, but also included influential leaders such as Dr A.T.G. Beveridge (future Chairman of the Aberdeen Independent Labour Party), George Bisset (Aberdeen Trades Council President 1886 – 1888),  James C. Thompson (Aberdeen Trades Council President 1883 and 1885), Rev. Alexander Webster (Unitarian minister and socialist) and William Lindsay (bookseller, former chartist and involved in many other political organisations). The Association successfully co-operated with the Trades Council on the promotion of William Alexander Hunter as MP for North Aberdeen in 1885.

The Association appears to have wound up at the end of 1887 as there were discussions around this issue at the time. It was felt by some members that the Junior Liberal Association was sufficiently fulfilling the functions of the Radical Association.

Related entries: Aberdeen Junior Liberal Association, William Lindsay, bookseller and Rev. Alexander Webster, Unitarian minister and socialist.

References: James Leatham 1865-1945 (Bob Duncan, Aberdeen People’s Press, 1978) and Trade Unionism in Aberdeen 1878 1900 (K. D. Buckley, Edinburgh, 1955).

Sources: Radical Association Constitution (Aberdeen, 1884) is held at the University of Aberdeen Library.

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